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XENOTRANSPLANTATION - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore


What’s in news?

Scientists in Japan will begin trying to grow human organs in animals after receiving government permission for the first study of its kind in the country.

Key data’s:

  • The cutting-edge — but controversial — research involves implanting modified animal embryos with human “induced pluripotent stem” (iPS) cells that can be coaxed into forming the building blocks of any part of the body.
  • A Japanese scientist from the University of Tokyo just got permission from the government to create animal embryos that contain human cells, Nature reports — work that could lead, eventually, to growing human organs in animal hosts for the purpose of transplantation.
  • The Japanese government specifically banned letting an embryo grow to full term until its change in policy this month, which now allows them to stay alive beyond 14 days.
  • The UK, Germany and France do not allow human stem cells to be put into animal embryos.

Idea behind this:

  • Lead researcher Hiromitsu Nakauchi has already genetically modified rats and mice to not grow a pancreas.
  • The mice only required a few days of treatment to stop their bodies rejecting the organs, before the pancreas began producing insulin as normal.
  • Next, his team will try to place human stem cells in fertilized eggs of those animals to enable them to grow a pancreas again.
  • The goal is to one day grow human organs inside pigs or sheep, responding to a shortage of organs available for transplantation.

Problem with this experiment:

  • But before you think such an experiment could have us end up with man-animal hybrids and cats with human celebrity faces, you should think again.
  • The number of human cells grown in the bodies of sheep is extremely small, like one in thousands or one in tens of thousands.
  • At that level, an animal with a human face will never be born.


  • The researchers won’t be able to control how the animals’ bodies use the human cells, nor how much of the creature becomes ‘human’.
  • For instance, if a large number of human cells were used to form the brain, the animal could become ‘humanized’ and unusually intelligent.


  • Xenotransplantation, or heterologous transplant is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another (for instance from animals to humans in this case).
  • Such cells, tissues or organs are called xenografts or xenotransplants.
  • For example in this case, he valves of pigs’ or cows’ hearts can be used to replace those of people having surgery for heart disease.


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